Google s latest update to mobile operating system Android, Lollipop brings a slew of features to the mobile platform. While the graphical overhaul dubbed Material Design might be the biggest noticeable change, there are lots of other things Google has put its focus on. Chief among them is its security. In a blogpost, the company has detailed the major security features it has added to the operating system. Also Read - Google announces six new Android features, which will roll out this yearAlso Read - Hitman Sniper: The Shadows mobile game announced: Agent 47 is missing
The company says that it will now encrypt users data by default. While this is not a new feature, but until now it was optional. With Lollipop, the encryption mechanism will get enabled during the activation process. This feature, among many things, will disallow even Google from unlocking your phone, even at the request of law enforcement. Also Read - Google Workspace now available for everyone, including free Google account owners
Google explains that the encryption system creates a unique key which is stored in the device, and doesn t get backed up to Google s servers. This essentially makes the device accessible to only the person who has the unlock code for the phone. This way, the company is also ensuring that the data stored on a user s phone – audio, video, pictures, and any other data – which hasn t been backed up to Google s server or any other cloud-storage service, will be accessible to only the device s owner.
Do note that since Google, and a vast majority of tech companies comply to the recent changes made by the government, Google will still have to allow access to law enforcement to have a look at the data stored in its cloud, as well as metadata from wireless carriers, in the event court orders are produced. But it won’t be able to look at the data stored in someone’s phone.
The move comes after Apple announced a similar encryption feature in its iOS mobile operating system. Major tech companies are now adding layers of security to their products and services in the wake of Edward Snowden s revelations about the existence of government programs that are monitoring all of Internet s data, including the ones stored in the cloud servers of the all the popular services.
With Android Lollipop Google is also introducing a Smart Lock feature which will make it convenient for users to quickly unlock the device. Many users who check their phone every few minutes don t use lock screen feature as it is bothersome to unlock the device every time. The Smart Lock feature pairs with your other devices and unlocks the phone when it senses your presence. Additionally, the company has also improved the Face unlock feature, which now rather than pretending to take a picture, and analyze it, it s analyzing a user s face on an ongoing basis, explained Android security engineering lead Adrian Ludwig.
The company also talked about the use of Security Enhanced Linux (SELinux), which essentially makes all the individuals apps work in isolation. What this means is that even if your device has a vulnerable app installed on it, it won t be able to interact with other apps to pollute or retrieve data from them. Our goal with the security model of Android is that you should never have to care, honestly, Ludwig explained. I don t think it s realistic that the average person should think about security. That s sort of the confidence level that we re hoping for in Android, and SELinux gets us that much closer to it, where you don t have to worry about security, you don t have to spend time thinking about it.